London Marathon Tips – the final days:
Hopefully, by the time you read this, the bulk of your preparations are done. With equipment checklists in place, maps and logistics sorted and your registration completed, you are ready to focus on the lead up to the race, and the run itself. Here are some more of my London Marathon Tips that will ensure that your weekend is as painless and enjoyable as possible.
The day before the Marathon:
How you prepare yourself the day before the marathon can have a significant impact on how you feel, and on how you run on the day. This day is all about staying as calm as possible and staying off your feet and resting as much as possible.
If you are able to lie down and rest, it is an excellent time to visualise your day and visualise your route ahead of time. This is a very worthwhile exercise as it is incredibly helpful to have mentally prepared situations ahead of time.
Try to keep your movement the day prior to the London Marathon to a minimum. Only make the journeys that are absolutely necessary. I strongly advise NOT running at all on this day. If you are feeling particularly nervous then a short, easy, 20 to 30 minute run may help settle the nerves. But keep in mind, that there are no training benefits to be had this close to the event.
One of my most important London Marathon Tips at this stage is not to be tempted to try anything new. The running gear you wear on the day should all have been worn before (especially the trainers), so don’t be tempted to purchase something new.
This goes for the food you eat too. Don’t experiment with new power bars of gels at this stage. Keep the food simple. Yes, about two thirds of your intake should be carbohydrate, but there is no need to eat a large portion. It is important to stay away from creamy sauces if you eat a pasta dish, avoid spicy foods – and go easy on the fruit and fibre. For obvious reasons you will need to keep your bowels steady on the big day!
Eat your largest meal in the late afternoon or very early evening on the day prior to the race. IT is important that you fully digest the food, and your stomach feels calm before you go to bed.
Most importantly of all, don’t fantasise about faster finishing times. Even as a novice runner you should have a reasonable idea of what your realistic finishing time might be. If anything add time to that figure, unrealistic expectations will only set you up for failure.
Last minute tips for the day of the London Marathon:
On the day of the run give yourself plenty of time for everything. Prior to the race you need to expend as little energy as is humanly possible. Aim to get to the start at least an hour before the race. Before you even set off lubricate any area in which chafing has been a problem. Trust me, chafing during a marathon can be a big distraction.
With the unpredictable London Marathon weather you need to find ways to ensure you are as warm and as dry as possible before the race. As you will be setting off early, layers of old t-shirts can keep you warm and are easy to dispose of later on. A black bag with a few small few holes in (allowing it to breathe), is the customary way to shield from the rain. On the off chance that it is a particularly warm day, find shelter at every opportunity.
Once you are in the starting area with a few minutes to go, put your hand on your stomach and take some deep breaths that cause your hand to rise and fall. This should help to calm the nerves and encourage the deep breathing that will help with your running.
As the run gets underway BE PATIENT. You are among a mass of people and you will be moving slowly for the first half mile to mile of the Marathon. Don’t be tempted to try and weave in and out of other runners, it is an unnecessary waste of energy. Be glad for the sedate start, it will act as a warm up and allow your body to start using fat as fuel, which is exactly what you need.
When you are a mile or two into the run you can start monitoring your posture. Two key pointers are to make sure your chin is up (look ahead and not at the ground) and to make sure your shoulders are relaxed (not hunched up near your ears). Periodically throughout the early part of the run repeat this posture check to make sure you are running with optimum efficiency.
As you get into the heart of the race you will start to feel good. Your body will feel primed and the crowd will be giving you a huge lift. Avoid any temptation to start increasing your pace at this stage. If you want to be brave, save it until the last 3 miles. Going too fast too soon is the absolute death knell in your first marathon.
A final word
But my biggest London Marathon Tip of all is soak up the atmosphere. At times during the run you will feel absolutely euphoric. Keep the faith and keep going no matter what.
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